Dominic Raab gives update on Brexit
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Rishi Sunak could be on the brink of making a major Brexit breakthrough and agreeing a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol, with the Prime Minister set to meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today. He has been holding talks with the European Union chief over recent days and is planning to brief his Cabinet before announcing to the country the details of the agreed deal, which could even take place this afternoon. But the Prime Minister will be bracing for a potential Tory rebellion, with some of his own MPs warning they will hit back if European judges retain any type of say over Northern Ireland.
Prior to today’s meeting between Mr Sunak and Ms von der Leyen, prominent Brexiteer Mark Francois issued a stern warning to the Prime Minister.
The Chairman of the European Research Group of Conservative MPs told Sky News: “Trying to bounce parliament usually ends badly.”
Mr Francois said the issue was about “whose law was sovereign in Northern Ireland”, before adding: “We need to get rid of EU law in Northern Ireland.”
Below is a full list of leading Brexiteers who could challenge Mr Sunak over any agreed deal on the Protocol.
The European Research Group (ERG) will be a prominent voice for the Eurosceptic Tory MPs, and its Chairman will no doubt lead from the front.
He wants any deal agreed by the Prime Minister to go to a vote among MPs, and has insisted the Prime Minister must not “try to bludgeon this through the Commons”
Sir Iain Duncan Smith
The former Conservative Party leader is an ardent Brexiteer and as part of any agreed deal with the EU, wants Mr Sunak to “secure more” from the bloc.
He has insisted the Northern Ireland Protocol must be replaced to preserve peace in the country.
The Northern Ireland minister and former ERG chief is said to be furious at not being part of negotiations between the UK and EU to the point where he has reportedly considered resigning.
But in a much-needed boost to Mr Sunak, the prominent Brexiteer gave a thumbs up as he left Number 10 on Sunday, suggesting he is now in a much more positive frame of mind.
The former Brexit opportunities minister, who only held the position for seven months last year before resigning, could be influential in forcing a vote in parliament.
As the former leader of the House of Commons, he is well versed in parliamentary procedure, so could quickly become an instrumental figure in the whole process.
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The ERG deputy leader has warned the Northern Ireland Protocol “won’t be fixed by displaying green and red signs”.
He has also insisted the problems surrounding the mechanism won’t be solved by “pretending” the European Court of Justice (ECJ) “hasn’t got supreme jurisdiction in Northern Ireland when it manifestly has”.
The UK’s chief Brexit negotiator and Brexit minister under the premiership of Boris Johnson has been very public over his thoughts on the Protocol.
Lord Frost has backed the former Prime Minister’s warning that scrapping the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill in favour of a new Brexit deal would be a “great mistake”.
Mr Sunak will also be well aware any deal over the Protocol will likely have to meet the red lines set by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).
The mechanism, agreed upon with the EU by Mr Johnson at the end of 2020, was designed to prevent a hard border with Ireland after Brexit.
Northern Ireland would continue to follow EU rules on goods to prevent checks from being needed when crossing into the Republic.
But tensions have been strained among Unionists over the trade barriers between Northern Ireland and Great Britain created by the Protocol and in protest, the DUP collapsed powersharing in Stormont last year
DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has issued seven tests the Prime Minister’s deal will have to meet in order to win the party’s backing.
These include addressing what Sir Jeffrey has described as the “democratic deficit” of Northern Ireland being subject to EU rules while not having a say on them.
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